Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Bike Tour

Day 1 – 8/28, 5:30am, Newark Airport

An early morning at the airport’s theme park replication of a Jersey diner, as I wait for my flight to Canada. My bicycle, boxed up by the fine folks at the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop (a fitting name to support a tour of that devil’s music), currently being loaded into the cargo bin of the airplane. I acknowledge up front the contradiction of flying off to start a supposedly carbon neutral project; it is a very difficult era to stay pure, we are all complicit in some way or another.

So about to finally hit the road! While I have too much self-respect to think this whole thing is the manifestation of an early onset mid-life crisis, having just had a birthday, I have to admit the aging process has been on my mind. Training for this one felt more than four years harder than when I trained for my New England tour in 2010. Perhaps exacerbated by my bike GPS’s strange habit of notifying me of every cemetery on the map – it won’t notice rest stops or restaurants, but it always shows cartoon gravestones floating their way towards me. And I’ve been riding in Connecticut, it seems like every town in the state has at least three graveyards dating back to the 17th century. So I may no longer be young, but I’m cool with that transition, the midway of the journey has its own rewards.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself, for this tour (and this diary), we’re just at the beginning. I hope to write nearly every day, but I have to discipline myself write more casually. I am my sister‘s brother: she is an author of Flaubertian care and exquisite precision, and instilled in me that kind of verbal specificity (even if I lack her narrative invention and poetic grace). But for a diary I can’t spend days obsessing over just the right word, I’m going to limit myself to two drafts, one in long hand in my notebook, then typing it up on my grudgingly purchased iPad. (Another example of my acoustic aesthetics clashing with the realities of technological complicity. Perhaps one of the lessons of this tour will be getting over my own Luddite pretensions without sacrificing my natural inclinations.)

Despite the shiny tablet, I chose to go old school with reading materials. I’m planning to carry one paperback at a time, trading it in for the next one at whatever local used book shop I find myself near. I like the idea of the chance curation, picking from what’s available and strikes my fancy, rather than confronting the exhausting totality of online availability. Yesterday, I grabbed my first entry at the Book Trader in New Haven: Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing – an author and book I feel I’ve heard good things about, but the particulars of which I am unfamiliar.

For a musician, I’m sure talking about writing a lot. So this evening, I’ll get back to sound, playing a solo sunset concert on Wreck Beach in Vancouver. I picked the beach because it was on the far western tip of the city (and relatively close to my uncle’s house where I’m staying), but I was amused to discover it’s known as the city’s prime spot for nude sunbathing. So perhaps it won’t just be my artistic vulnerability that will be naked; a fine way to kick things off.

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